The seventeenth century on film: patriarchy, magistracy and witchcraft in British horror films, 1968-1971

Harmes, Marcus K. ORCID: (2013) The seventeenth century on film: patriarchy, magistracy and witchcraft in British horror films, 1968-1971. Canadian Journal of Film Studies, 22 (2). pp. 64-80. ISSN 0847-5911


This article argues that the a series of films made between 1968 and 1971 and set in the seventeenth century mark a departure not only from the typical setting of British horror films, but also from what was then the prevailing portrayal of patriarchal authority in Britain's horror output. While the films examined in this paper have often been read as aligned with and sympathetic to counter cultural forces, and thus as a refraction of contemporary 1960s social unrest through a seventeenth century lens, this paper finds in them a contrary position. It suggests that bringing the seventeenth century onto the screen allowed horror filmmakers working for the smaller Tigon company to re-endorse the fatherly authority that Hammer, Britain's largest horror studio, was then calling into question.

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Item Type: Article (Commonwealth Reporting Category C)
Refereed: Yes
Item Status: Live Archive
Additional Information: This publication is copyright. It may be reproduced in whole or in part for the purposes of study, research, or review, but is subject to the inclusion of an acknowledgment of the source.
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - USQ Other
Faculty/School / Institute/Centre: Current - USQ Other
Date Deposited: 03 Dec 2013 23:34
Last Modified: 04 Feb 2015 05:27
Uncontrolled Keywords: witchcraft; Britain; horror cinema; Tigon Films; English Civil War; Michael Reeves (film director); Gordon Hessler (film director); Piers Haggard (film director); American International Pictures
Fields of Research (2008): 19 Studies in Creative Arts and Writing > 1902 Film, Television and Digital Media > 190201 Cinema Studies
21 History and Archaeology > 2103 Historical Studies > 210305 British History
16 Studies in Human Society > 1608 Sociology > 160806 Social Theory
Fields of Research (2020): 36 CREATIVE ARTS AND WRITING > 3605 Screen and digital media > 360501 Cinema studies
43 HISTORY, HERITAGE AND ARCHAEOLOGY > 4303 Historical studies > 430304 British history
44 HUMAN SOCIETY > 4410 Sociology > 441005 Social theory
Socio-Economic Objectives (2008): E Expanding Knowledge > 97 Expanding Knowledge > 970121 Expanding Knowledge in History and Archaeology

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